Criticism of Mormonism/Video/Search for the Truth DVD/Reader Comments

Table of Contents

Reaction from FAIR's Readers

The following is a sampling of the email messages FAIR has received since posting the response to the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD. Names and email addresses have been removed for privacy reasons.

While we have not posted every message we've received, the following is representative of the types of messages FAIR is getting. We've included both supportive and critical messages here. Our editorial replies appear in blue.

If you would like to contact FAIR about the DVD response, please use our contact web page.

From: DM
Received: Saturday, 24 March 2007

I visited my daughter today and she had a whole scheaf of papers in her hands. "Have you read this, Dad? It's FAIR's rebuttal to the DVD on YouTube. It is really really good!" She was impressed. She had found it on her own. You guys are great.

From: JR
Received: Saturday, 24 March 2007

I have not viewed the anti-Mormon dvd, not will I waste my time with it. I have already read many books, both pro and con. However, after being an active member of the church for over 20 years, inactive for the last 5 or so, I can understand the sentiments. The church rarely mentioned Jesus Christ in most talks and Sunday school lessons when I attended. It was always about Joseph Smith and his importance. Oh, did I miss the stories and teachings of Jesus! Of course the church has since changed it's views, but a bit late for me.

Latter-day Saints do spend a lot of time focusing on the mission of Joseph Smith because he is the prophet who was called to restore the gospel in the last days. This can feel unusual or unfamiliar to converts from Protestant or evangelical Christianity. But although Latter-day Saints discuss Joseph Smith, we also "talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ" (2 Nephi 25:26). Jesus Christ is the center of our devotion and worship. All prayers are given in his name, and all talks are closed with his name. The sacrament is administered in every regular Sunday meeting, memorializing Jesus' atonement and renewing the covenants Latter-day Saints have made with him. As important as Joseph Smith is to the Saints, he does not compare in any way to the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we do not follow Joseph Smith's "revelations" we will not be able to gain access to the highest level of Heaven and meet God personally. After many months of prayer and study I've come to realize that God would not admit us to the highest level of heaven only if we play a little game and pretend to meet him first and give him a secret handshake. Also, if God truly wants us to make it back to Heaven, he would not have left the instructions with only one human being, especially one with so many "imperfections", for all of humanity to follow. (In 1st or 2nd Corinthians it is mentioned the answer will be always be given to more than one).

The point is not about following Joseph Smith, but about following the ordained prophets of God whatever age in which they have been called. Joseph Smith is not alone in his witness—many prophets came before him, and many have come after. All of them were human beings with imperfections, but they delivered God's message to the best of their capacity. JR's caricature of LDS temple ordinances also dramatically oversimplifies and distorts the importance of the temple covenant and ritual.

When I have asked questions in the past of bishops, or visiting and home teachers, I have been told I'm not to question anything. I have read the ten rules for following a prophet blindly, no matter how wrong I feel he might be. Am I to abandon my Holy Spirit when I do this? Or my Free Will? Or my Intelligence?) And where are some of these righteous people today? One recent visiting teacher is now in jail in Las Vegas for prostitution. One of my home teachers is in jail for child pornography, another in jail for murdering his wife. These are the ones that told me that my answers were not of God since they were different from theirs. While I am not judging the church based on these people, it does give me an indication that perhaps my prayers are correct.

Latter-day Saints are mortal, fallible, and imperfect. Some of them commit very serious sins. Unfortunately, JR seems to have met more than her share of them.
There is nothing in LDS teaching that requires believers "not to question anything," nor to "follow a prophet blindly." In fact, numerous scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants speak of using our God-given intelligence to study and learn, and to use that knowledge, coupled with inspiration from the Holy Ghost, to come to a knowledge of truth. (See DC 88:79; DC 88:118; DC 90:15; DC 130:19.)

It is interesting how questions seem to be answered with questions in your responses to the dvd. It is also interesting you quote Bruce McKonkie [sic] when it suits your argument, but slap his hand when he deviates from the teachings of the church. In the many years I was involved in the church I found that to be the case with the Book of Mormon as well. Very few Mormons have read the book cover to cover. Only a tiny bit is used to support lesson plans for Sunday school. It was frustrating to ask questions raised by reading the Book of Mormon, to be told "I don't need to read it - I prayed about it!" Many people told me this.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote and spoke widely, and many of the things he wrote and said are correct. Some of the things he wrote and said were his own opinion, or ventured into areas where there is no definitive revelation on the subject, or where faithful Latter-day Saints disagree. As stated previously, we do not believe prophets are infallible, but they do have a special commission and it is in our best interest to consider what they say carefully.
It is difficult to respond to JR's claim that the Book of Mormon wasn't read or used much by Latter-day Saints she knew. Certainly leaders of the Church—especially over the last 20 years—have repeatedly asked the Saints to read the Book of Mormon. According to BYU's General Conference Scripture Citation Index, speakers in General Conference from 1986 to 2006 quoted from the Book of Mormon 5,727 times, compared to 5,109 from the New Testament and 4,291 from the Doctrine and Covenants. We spend one year out of ever four in our Sunday School lesson cycle studying the Book of Mormon. In August 2005, President Hinckley challenged all Latter-day Saints to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before the end of the year. So JR's criticism seems to be without merit. (In fact, one of the frequent criticisms we respond to at FAIR is that Latter-day Saints put too much focus on the Book of Mormon!)

Another point of contention I have with the church not working for me personally is the teaching that no matter how righteous a life I lead, it is solely up to the discretion of my husband to "call me over to the other side." This is why he is allowed to know my new temple name but I am given his. How can a loving God leave my fate up to another human being? Does a woman have no choices in the church?

Since this involves temple ordinances, we are limited in what we can say in this case. Certainly, though, Latter-day Saints believe that the wife of an unrighteous or unbelieving husband would not be hindered by him in any way in receiving her exaltation.

I don't mean to denigrate Mormonism - it works for many people. But please consider there may be other avenues to the highest level of heaven. If Mormonism were more tolerant of other religions, then perhaps other religions would follow suit. It's called the Law of Attraction.

Latter-day Saints believe there is much truth and much good in all religious beliefs, and that all truths should be believed, regardless of their source. Our loving Heavenly Father will give everyone the appropriate opportunity in God's own time to accept the grace of his Son through the proper ordinances and covenants.
And JR is correct that Mormons do need to be more tolerant of others' beliefs. President Hinckley has said precisely that on several occasions recently.

From: CP
Received: Sunday, March 25, 2007

They [the DVD's producers] make the assertion that the number of Mormons in Utah is steadily decreasing. I find that hard to believe. Perhaps the number of Mormons as a percent of total population is probably true. Do you have any stats related to that?

We sure do, CP:

From: JM
Received: Sunday, 25 March 2007

Thank you for your perspective on the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD. You might be interested in an evangelical critique of this same project that has been viewed positively by many LDS, and not so positively by many in the counter-cult and those associated with this project. It might be of value to you and your readers and it can be found here:

http://johnwmorehead.blogspot.com/2007/02/jesus-christjoseph-smith-video_10.html

From: JD
Received: Sunday, 25 March 2007

As a convert, born and raised as a Catholic, I understand some of the frustrations non-LDS people have. When people question our faith in Jesus Christ, they in actuality are questioning their faith. I have often wondered why do they act that way, then I hear in my head the Lord is saying "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." It is so easy to find fault in the other guy.

People are afraid of what they do not know or wish to know. Without the comfort of the Holy Ghost some sheep will be lost forever.

I'm retired and loving all of the scriptures is a passion, if there is anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to write. God Bless.

From: MR
Received: Sunday, 25 March 2007

I disagree with the statement [on the "Who Is Jesus?" page]: "Satan's plan, and his offer to implement it, was never consistent with God the Father's plan of salvation." The inference is that Satan had a distinct plan that contrasted with and was offered to us along with the Father's plan. The Father was the only one to offer a plan. Satan and Jesus each offered to implement the plan in his own way. I think you should get rid of the "Satan's plan" and make it "Satan's offer." Maybe this is a minor point, but I keep hearing people say from the pulpit that two plans were presented, God's and Satan's, as if we all democratically "voted" on which plan to accept. This notion makes Satan appear at the same level as God the Father.

FAIR volunteers discussed this wording quite a bit before we settled on the final version. Ultimately we felt that this really came down to semantics, and that most Latter-day Saints would be familiar with the phrase "Satan's plan." Technically, though, MR is correct: The Father described Jesus as "my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning" (Moses 4:2). It was the Father's intent from the start to offer Jesus as a redemptive sacrifice for all mankind; Satan's offer was not a choice between two equal plans.

From: TG
Received: Monday, 26 March 2007

As a bishop in [edited for privacy], I appreciate the work you folks do. But it seems you sometimes over reach and you lose some credibility. The stuff [on the "Archaeology" page] about the swords being made from wood and stone is a definite example. Certainly there may have been some of those, but come on - wood and stone don't rust! The Book of Mormon speaks plainly about the Nephites finding hilts of Jaredite swords that the blades had rusted. Ether 7:9 says their swords were made of steel. Nephi used the sword of Laban (which was made of steel) as a pattern to make his people swords. And on the matter of geography and archeology, as a faithful latter-day Saint I don't have a problem with admitting the fact that we really don't know where these events took place. I get a little put off when you tell me that it all fits neatly into Meso-America and that the Hill Cumorah in NY isn't the real Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon. I believe it is, and so did Joseph and all the early Church leaders. The fact is, we just don't know. And we just need to state that plainly without letting big egos get in the way.

It is true that swords not made of metal do not rust, but they can corrode and decay. The ancient writers of the Book of Mormon may not have seen a difference between corrosion, decay, and rust. We also have to be careful to differentiate between (earlier) Jaredite and (later) Lehite societies and the weapons they might have used.
With regard to the location of the Hill Cumorah, there is certainly room for disagreement among Latter-day Saints on this issue. Our experience has been that most Latter-day Saints who have an informed opinion on the subject have accepted the Mesoamerican region as the location of the Book of Mormon, and our DVD response reflected that (perceived) majority opinion. However, we're including TG's comments here to demonstrate that there are other valid points of view.

From: PC
Received: Sunday, 25 March 2007

What a wonderful website. You illustrate clearly how fear motivates in so called Christains, pathetic attempts to stop the Lords' work from progressing. May Heavenly Father bless you as you gently point out the lies and deception of those who work for the adversary. So many of these evangelicals seem to fear us so much, interesting isn't it! Who is the author of fear? Certainly not Christ. Keep up all this great work.

From: MD
Received: Monday, 26 March 2007

I was made aware of your organization by way of an email announcing some new anti-Mormon DVD. Although I am a bit uncomfortable with the purpose of your group, my real objection is in your choice to use "apologetic". Did you consider the definition most people would apply to it? I personally wouldn't ally myself with an organization that sounds like they are making excuses for doctrine and principles. I checked out your web site primarily to see if you were really anti-Mormon. Are you? Please consider finding a better word or entire name.

FAIR consists of believing Latter-day Saints who are committed to defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the restored gospel against false or unfair attacks. We are very definitely "pro-Mormon."
The word "apologetic" in our name comes from the Greek word απολογια (apologia), meaning "a defense." The word appears eight times in the New Testament (Acts 22:1; Acts 25:16; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:16; 1 Peter 3:15). Apologetics is the branch of theology concerned with the defense of Christianity.

From: BS
Received: Monday, 26 March 2007

Thank you for taking the time to produce such a well-reasoned and well-documented response to that vicious DVD. I do wish you had a better editor. For example, I wish you understood the difference between "principal" and "principle."

Our response to the DVD was put together on short notice using collaborative wiki software. Because of that, we fully expect there to be typos and other grammatical errors. If you find any, please bring them to our attention by using our contact web page.
(After we received this email, we searched for instances where "principle" should have been spelled "principal"; there were two of them, and we fixed both.)

From: SK
Received: Monday, 26 March 2007

On the Search for Truth page, Annotated Letter of Instruction, under "CAUTION...Mormons will blindly obey" - how about put a footnote to this link: http://www.fairlds.org/Misc/Do_Mormons_Believe_in_Blind_Obedience.html

BTW-You did a great job on this page! Thanks for all the effort and time. It was motivating and uplifting for me.

Done! Thanks for the suggestion, SK.

From: WW
Received: Monday, 26 March 2007

Thank you for the rapid and thorough treatment of the latest slanderous offering by those who love us as only "Christians" can. I was impressed by the sound reasoning, cross referencing and ample research done by the author of this treatise.

Other than the more recent claims about DNA, there really isn't anything in the video that one couldn't have read in any anti-Mormon tract written before 1970. However, it seems that the idea dies hard, that if you just re-package something every now and then and put it out to a new audience, there may be some ground to be gained.

I especially thought the letter to distributors was humorous. In one place, the producers of the video claim to be making great progress in combating Mormonism in Utah, yet they fear that if leaders of the church get wind of the project, the same "vulnerable" leaders will run out and preempt their efforts. One aspect of Anti-Mormons which I have always found interesting is that they just can't seem to make up their minds as to whether the church is vulnerable, or powerful. Whether Joseph Smith was a common con-man and womanizer, or evil genius.

Thank you for your efforts. I appreciate your presence and contributions.

From: TP
Received: Tuesday, 27 March 2007

I have not seen this particular video, but I have seen another series called "What's the Difference?". You can download it at http://www.lifechurch.tv/p/67/SermonID/11/Default.aspx

These are produced and released without secrecy.

One can express differences in the two faiths with love and still disagree.

I think these types of films all stem from the fact that Joseph Smith claimed to have seen a vision which said all Christian creeds were an abomination to God. It was Latter-day Saints who then started going door to door to tell other Christians that they were members of apostate churches and they needed to believe in a restored gospel. Other non-LDS ministries are doing whatever they can to prevent their sheep from being taken away.

TP places the message of the restored gospel in the most negative light possible. Rather than "tell[ing] other Christians that they [are] members of apostate churches," Latter-day Saints see the Restoration as an opportunity to tell others to keep all the truths they now believe, and we will add to them those additional truths God has revealed in the last days. As the Church's press release on the video puts it:
When Latter-day Saint missionaries visit homes or engage others in conversation, they studiously avoid criticism of other faiths. They do not attack and they do not condemn. Instead, they declare their own message honestly and openly and allow people the freedom to choose. Above all, they encourage each person to find out for themselves through personal research as well as prayer.
If the purpose of this video is to prevent non-Latter-day Saints "from being taken away" from their existing Churches, then why is the video being distributed primarily to Latter-day Saint homes? And, regardless of its audience, why does it have to distort the actual beliefs of Latter-day Saints?

Maybe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should boldly proclaim to the world that she is not just another Christian denomination, that she does not believe in the same Jesus Christ, and release a comparative video and boldly stick to the claims of its prophet and founder Joseph Smith, without worrying about who she will offend.

For the most part, The Church of Jesus Christ does do this. It does not claim to be "just another Christian denomination," but to be restored Christianity. President Gordon B. Hinckley has recently said on several occasions that we do not believe in the Jesus of the creeds. And the Church has and continues to release films about the life and mission of Joseph Smith (including the recent Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration).

Maybe she could start by modifying its web site. It is about as vague as one can be in regards to what the goal of the Mormon is.

FAIR does not speak for the Church, but since the mission of the Church is to invite all to come unto Christ and be saved (Moroni 10:30-32; Jacob 1:7; Omni 1:26; DC 20:59), we see the design of the Church's web site as completely appropriate.

For instance, http://www.mormon.org/learn/0,8672,1121-1,00.html. What is the purpose of life? "God wants all of His children to progress and become more like Him".

Notice how it doesn't tell the whole truth?

It needs to say that God wants all of His children to become a God like Him. Just like it says in the book "Gospel Principles".

Again FAIR doesn't speak for the Church, but since the clear purpose of Mormon.org is to introduce people to the beliefs of the Church, it seems entirely appropriate that that introduction begins with "God wants all of His children to...become more like Him." That statement is true, and lays the foundation for further study.
Since the entire text of the Church-published book Gospel Principles is easily available online for free, we can hardly see how the Church can be hiding "the whole truth." (Especially when critics of the Church point to it so often, and even pro-LDS sites link to it. Like we just did right here.)

It seems like the LDS Church is not willing to state its highest goal of achievement because it doesn't want to appear like Hinduism on the Internet.

Dan Peterson has responded to the rather remarkable claim that Mormonism is more like Hinduism than Christianity:
One would very much like to pose a few questions to [those who claim Mormonism is more like Hinduism than Christianity]: What, for example, is the role of the Vedas or of the Upanishads in Latter-day Saint devotions? How central is the concept of karma to Mormon theology? What have the leaders of the church had to say about reincarnation, or the transmigration of souls? Is there any passage in Mormon scripture that advocates a rigid and complex caste system? Has an atheistic form of Mormonism, analogous to the Hindu atheist movements, been a fruitful element in Latter-day Saint intellectual history? Which is closer to Hindu monistic teaching, the Mormon concept of the Godhead or classical post-Nicene trinitarianism? Can [they] name any Latter-day Saint hymn devoted to Vishnu? Would she care to comment on the rising bhakti movement among the followers of Joseph Smith? On the chanting of saffron-robed Mormon missionaries at American airports? (Hare Joseph!)
Daniel C. Peterson, "Skin Deep (Review of: Die Mormonen: Sekte oder neue Kirche Jesu Christi?)," FARMS Review of Books 9/2 (1997): 99–146. off-site
The LDS doctrine of exaltation has only a superficial resemblance to the Hindu belief. It has much more in common with the early Christian and modern Orthodox Christian belief in theosis—that man, through the atonement of Christ, can become like God.

From: GW
Received: Tuesday, 27 March 2007

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and am so grateful to belong to a church that does not tear down other churches. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

From: DP
Received: Tuesday, 27 March 2007

What a great site. Thank you so much for this much needed site! I have enjoyed your readings and look forward to supporting your cause.

From: N Received: Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Hi, Thanks for your well written commentary and explanations concerning the new anti-Joseph Smith DVD. I think the manner in which the claims were dealt with was very good and for the most part in the right spirit.

The only critique I have is that a few times I felt FAIR'S responses were a little too cheeky in making the DVD producers look like fools, or rather, it felt like I was reading a retaliation that if it was done in person to the producers, it would have provoked contention and bitter feelings. When I read things like this I try to imagine one of the 12 apostles giving the explanation and the spirit he would do it in. I think the information is accurate and for the most part well done, there were only a few times I was thinking the responses were a little cheekier than what maybe the ideal spirit would have been.

The only reason I say this is that I believe that in order for your efforts in countering the damage from DVD to be most effective, the Spirit ideally must be able to be present from the words you are writing about the DVD's errors. Truth said in the wrong way can lead to absence of the Spirit and thus not leaving an impression from its witness about the truth of what you are saying to defend the gospel. I think the ideal overtone should be that of humility, yet boldness when need be. But we are not perfect after all, and I know that I often respond in ways in my communication that are less than ideal.

I think that what you guys are doing is a great thing for Christ's church and know that your efforts will have a tremendous meaningful impact in His cause for truth. Thanks for your efforts.

We wrote the response pages very quickly, so appreciate any feedback on tone and style. If there are specific examples where you believe we were uncharitable, please bring them to our attention using the contact web page and we will do our best to improve them.

From: R
Received: Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Great job with the website! It is refreshing to see someone on the internet with a correct perspective of the Gospel to defend the truth. Keep up the great work! I support you fully.

From: S Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I have posted your website on many blogs I have encountered regarding the Joseph Smith DVD. I am so thankful that you responded so quickly and answered everything that was addressed. I am a convert to the church (baptized 2 years ago) and although I do not have a whole lot of knowledge (yet) I do have a incredibly strong testimony. I just want to thank you for all your hard work, you were able to answer all the questions that I could not!!! Ya'll are soooooooo awesome, thank you for all that you do!!

From: SJ
Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I'm glad you posted the web page discussing the true nature of this DVD. My question is more of a logistical one. I'm wondering how they got our residential addresses. It is too broad of a distribution for them to have collected ward rosters. Any ideas?

We are not aware of how those who are distributing the film are identifying LDS households. It's possible that they have access to membership records, but it seems more likely that they're just hitting every home in areas with concentrated LDS populations.

From: CD
Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I have been a life long Mormon, marrying in the temple and have been devoted to building up the kingdom, or so I thought. I have recently been experiencing many inconsistencies within my ward, with ward leaders and personal life regarding Mormon doctrine; so I set out to find answers to honest questions that were being avoided by my local church leadership. After many difficult months of research and fact finding, I have come to the painful conclusion that the Mormon church although a very good organization, is not what it claims to be. I am shocked that our leaders, including the prophet himself, have lied and buried the truth from its members regarding the history of Mormonism. I find it appalling that they continue to profess actual documented historical facts as anti-Mormon literature. (Many of these facts coming from Mormons themselves, Mormon historians, BYU professors etc. and are threatened and harassed by church leaders when they question doctrine.) We are told as Mormons not to read anything that is not published by the church, to bury our heads in the sand and only believe what we are told. No wonder, they are terrified that people will find out the truth about Joseph Smith and Mormonism. You tout that this DVD is so anti-Mormon while some claims might be false, most of it is true. If the Mormons weren't so ignorant as to believe everything they are told they would learn quite a history lesson.

Latter-day Saints are not afraid of our own history, nor are we told "not to read anything that is not published by the church, to bury our heads in the sand and only believe what we are told."

From: MP
Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I just wanted to thank all who are responsible for updating this website. Great resource.

From: GSW
Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

For someone who is looking for clarifications in a world of bias barrage, I thank you for your efforts. I really appreciate another fantastic resource for personal reflection and contemplation. Please know this is a valuable thing for many people!

From: BT
Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I just wanted to let you know that I think what you are doing by defending the true beliefs of the LDS faith is a very inspired and admirable thing. I pray that those whom are deceived by the half-truths and lies found in this new DVD will find your site and be enlightened by the whole truth. God bless!

From: MS
Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I've been in my hotel room all evening watching the latest anti-DVD and internally, spiritually and intellectually responding. FAIR did a tremendous job in its effort to clear the waters. The DVD will do more good than harm. I just wanted to say thanks to all of those involved!

From: CL
Received: Wednesday, 28 March 2007

I live in a small community in Eastern Utah and have not seen the video currently being distributed. However, after hearing the story on KSL 10:00 evening news I was curious and went to their website to learn more on this story. I can only say THANK YOU to all the volunteers who have done an excellent job in researching and responding to the distortions apparent in this video.


Jump to...


Special Features

Other Materials

Other Protestant attacks on the Church of Jesus Christ:

Do You Have Questions?
If you have questions about anything you read on this page, we encourage you to ask. FairMormon is a volunteer organization, and our members are glad to answer questions. You can ask by using our handy contact page. You will get one or more answers, via e-mail, usually within a short time after asking.

Click here to receive our free monthly e-mail newsletter for defenders of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can unsubscribe at any time.